Ellyn Bader


Our daughter Molly has taken up endurance horseback riding. Two years ago, she rode 600 miles across Mongolia in 9 days. Now she is training for the Tevis Cup, a 24-hour 100 miler from Lake Tahoe to Auburn, CA in July. 

This is a recent passion for her, although she has loved horses since she was six. Pete and I asked her why she loves these long, draining, intense rides. To answer us, she sent an article by Jody Buttram that helped capture Molly’ feelings for Rocky(her horse teammate) and the race.

Buttram wrote the article to help folks understand the true endurance distance rider. When I read it, I thought, “Isn’t this something all couples should hear when they get married?”  

I share with you some quotes from Jody’s article, and I suggest you reflect on them and how you might use them with your clients.

I also really recommend her whole article. http://www.endurance.net/blogger/SERANovember2007.pdf

Jody wanted to express what it takes to go the full 100-mile distance and why some embrace it while others fear it or fail to imagine they could ever succeed. 

“This distance is the top tier of performance for the distance horse. It is the end goal, the most perfected dance that a rider and horse team can perform. It is a delicate balance of knowledge, skill, and athletic ability that only they can conduct.  

Many are extremely passionate about 100 milers, while others see them as something that either they have no desire to do, or think that it is something that they cannot achieve. The 100 miler is not a mountain that cannot be climbed, nor is it a challenge that should be jumped into lightly. It is a battleground that only the fully prepared dare to stand upon with hopes of succeeding.”

She goes on to explain that 100-mile races are not about luck. They are about skill and teamwork. Luck won’t get you through. 

These races are about passion and going the distance. They are not for the uncommitted.

She goes on to illuminate, 100-mile riders are not in it for awards, for money, for status, for points, or for fame.

The rewards are intrinsic. They are felt in the relationship built between horse and rider. In the skill. In the teamwork. In the passion of what is accomplished over time. 

She ends her article saying, “The 100 miler is not a place for the meek, the timid or the uncommitted. It is a test of everything the rider has ever learned. It is a testament to the horse/rider team and their ability to go into a zone of competition that takes no prisoners. It is about being an explorer, an adventurer and a warrior, all at the same time. It is about the character of endurance…the 100-mile ride. Long may it reign.”

Think how different our sessions with our clients would be if they held this perspective. Just think if they started their work with you saying, “I respect my partner and I’ve come to develop the skill to be much better at endurance, to unlock the skills of more effective teamwork, and to strengthen my commitment to make it work!”

How might you use the ideas from the 100-mile race with your couples? And what other hobbies or pursuits might translate well to inspire couples to go the distance? By the way

If you missed Pete’s recent webinar, The Big Picture: How to Stop the Fighting and Restart the Loving, you can still get it here. Pete presents a new reframe about success and how couples can create and sustain it over the long haul – the whole hundred miles! I have witnessed Pete in action for over 3 decades, through hundreds of workshops, presentations, and more recently, webinars. And I can truly say that this webinar delivered the biggest impact and garnered the most positive feedback of any I have ever seen him do.


Ellyn Bader, Ph.D., is Co-Founder & Director of The Couples Institute and creator of The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy. Ellyn is widely recognized as an expert in couples therapy, and since 2006 she has led innovative online training programs for therapists. Professionals from around the world connect with her through internet, conference calls and blog discussions to study couples therapy.

Ellyn’s first book, "In Quest of the Mythical Mate," won the Clark Vincent Award by the California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists for its outstanding contribution to the field of marital therapy and is now in its 18th printing. She has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including "The Today Show" and "CBS Early Morning News," and she has been quoted in many publications including "The New York Times," "The Oprah Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan."

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5 months ago

Very inspiring! We know those couples that do carry this mindset–would that they all did! Best of skill to Molly!

Meg Luce
Meg Luce
5 months ago

I loved reading about the parallels between the passion and dedication of successful long-term relationships and the “mystery, lure and satisfaction of the 100 mile ride.”
This article could be a great share for couples hoofing it out in therapy!